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254                  HISTORY OF PERSIA                 CHAP.
of the Ustajlu tribe, but he was killed before his
supporters could rally round him. Ultimately Ismail, the
fourth son, who had been imprisoned by his father for
twenty-five years, was placed on the throne. After
establishing his power the new Shah, who was probably
brutalized by his long imprisonment, put to death or
blinded all the princes of the blood who were at Kazvin,
to the number of eight, and also seventeen leading noble-
men. Mohamed Mirza, known as Khudabanda, the
eldest son of Tahmasp, being almost blind, was not re-
garded as a candidate for the throne. He had, however,
been ruling Khorasan, and being afterwards appointed to
Pars, left an infant son, Abbas, as nominal Governor of
Khorasan, under the guardianship of All Kuli Khan, Chief
of the Shamlu. Ismail sent messengers with instructions
to put to death both Khudabanda and the infant Abbas,
but just before the cruel order was carried out news
arrived of the decease of the monarch from drink and
an overdose of opium. According to another account, he
was assassinated by fifteen men disguised as women.
Mohamed Khudabanda^ A.H. 985 (1578).—The death
of Ismail not only saved Mohamed's life, but secured
him the throne of Persia. But he proved unfit to cope
with state affairs, and his authority was challenged before
long by the Amirs of Khorasan, who proclaimed Abbas
as Shah. During the civil war which ensued the weak
monarch abandoned his Vizier, Mirza Sulayman, to the
Kizilbash chiefs, who put him to death. After this his
position was enfeebled by the impolitic execution of the
Chief of the Takalu tribe, and when the Turks invaded
Persia he was deserted by the great feudatories. The
valour of Hamza Mirzay the heir-apparent, alone illumi-
nated this dark period. His first exploit was the annihi-
lation of the Turkish advance guard near Khoi. A second
force of Turks was despatched to avenge this disaster, but
they too were cut to pieces. In spite of these brilliant
Persian successes, the invading army advanced on Tabriz,
which was taken and sacked owing to the defection of
the Kizilbash chiefs. But Hamza Mirza had still to be
reckoned with, and in an attack which he made in A.H.